In Week 11, the San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1) will host the Chicago Bears (7-2) in a primetime game that will carry significant playoff implications. Though, in this week's Monday Night Football match-up, the Niners may be without their starting QB.
No Jay Cutler, no Alex Smith for Bears-49ers #MNF game. Smith unable to get clearance after suffering concussion last week (sources).— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 19, 2012
49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith received a blow to the head against the Rams on Sunday. After evading pressure, Smith scrambled and took a shot from linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar - a hit that would sideline him for the remainder of the game.
Smith was still being evaluated by neurologists into the weekend, and reportedly could not get clear for Monday night's game.
So, with Smith reportedly not ready, can the team win with Colin Kaepernick behind center?
This might be the hardest fathomable match-up for an inexperienced QB, going up against Chicago's defense on primetime.
Luckily, unlike last week where he was thrown into the fire, Kaepernick got some valuable reps in practice. The 49ers knew this was a possibility, and are prepared to go ahead with the second-year QB. Niners' offensive coordinator Greg Roman will scheme a game plan fitting to Kaepernick's skill set, while minimizing the risk they take on that side of the ball.
Perhaps the most important thing Kaepernick can emphasize is ball security. The Bears fly around, take the football away and even score on the defensive side. Kaepernick has the big-play ability to lead this team to points, but he must take care of the ball and get it to his playmakers.
With his mobility, Kaepernick can wear down the defensive front of Chicago. And since he is a dual-threat - in that he can run and pass - sleight of hand and misdirection would be good tools to deploy against this defense.
Kaepernick also has the rocket arm. San Francisco would be wise to set up opportunities for Kaepernick to go deep to players like Vernon Davis and Randy Moss. These big-play threats in the passing offense could thrive with the strong arm of No. 7. Kaepernick has shown in a short period of time that he is not afraid to pull the trigger on deep throws.
Another point that must be made is that Chicago is having similar issues with their roster. Quarterback Jay Cutler sustained an injury last week, which removed him from action, as he was replaced by Jason Campbell.
Monday night's game will feature Kaepernick versus Campbell, and it could be San Francisco's to win. While Campbell has more game experience, Kaepernick has the much higher ceiling and might already be the better player.
One thing is for certain: this is the opportunity Colin Kaepernick has been waiting for since he was drafted. And like Mike Florio mentioned on Pro Football Talk this week; Alex Smith does not want Colin Kaepernick to have an opportunity to play well on a national stage.